Grayson Fends Off Christian Brothers’ Rally At NHSI

CARY, N.C.—Grayson High (Loganville, Ga.) opened up a 5-0 lead, then had to hold on as Christian Brothers High (Memphis) made a late push before falling 5-3 in a consolation game at the National High School Invitational.

Grayson got all of its offense in the bottom of the third. The Rams loaded the bases with nobody out for none other than top draft prospect Austin Meadows, who delivered a two-run single to open the scoring. The Rams tacked on three more runs in the inning, the last two coming on a two-out, two-run single from Brandon Benson.

Jack Banda

Jack Banda (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)

"We were wanting to have better two-strike at-bats, which we had a couple two-strike hits today, and try to put pressure on their defense," Grayson coach Jed Hixson said. "We were able to do that, still not to the level we want to, but we were able to do that better today than we did yesterday."

On the mound, senior righthander Jack Banda took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, yet the game was still very much in doubt. A combination of walks, errors and stolen bases allowed Christian Brothers to score two runs in the top of the fourth without the benefit of a hit, and the Rams weren't able to tack on any insurance runs against Christian Brothers' Corey Herndon.

Banda was able to steady the ship, however, and kept his no-hitter alive through six before tiring.

"I was glad to see us keep our composure, because we've had a lot of things this year already kind of go wrong," Hixson said. "So I was glad to see us not fold, not only him on the mound, but also defensively to stay solid and make sure we got outs and got out of it before it got any worse."

Although Banda, an Arizona football recruit, struck out six, Hixson said the real emphasis was on pitching to contact, and Banda was able to pound the inner half of the strike zone. The no-hitter was still alive to start the seventh, but Banda hit two batters and walked one to load the bases with none out, putting the tying runs on base and prompting a pitching change.

It was then that Grayson right fielder Chris Erwin made the defensive play of the game when he threw out Christian Brothers' Colin Kilgore at the plate on a potential sac fly, taking steam out of the rally. Christian Brothers' Michael Halley followed with an RBI single for the Purple Wave, breaking up the potential combined no-hitter and cutting the lead to 5-3, but Grayson's Korey Anderson struck out Casey Goodwin to end the game.